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Short, but concise account of Elisabeth and Mary Chulkhurst, who were born joined together by the hips and shoulders, in the year of our Lord 1100, at Biddenden, in the county of Kent : commonly called the Biddenden Maids.

Additional Title(s):

At head of title: Elisa & Mary Chulkhurst

Biddenden Maids

Biddenden [England] : Printed and sold by R. Weston, 1805.
Physical Description:
1 sheet ([1] pages) : illustrations ; 40 x 25 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Folio A 2018 7e
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
For an account of the Biddenden Maids, see: Bondeson, Jan. "The Biddenden Maids: a curious chapter in the history of conjoined twins," Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, London: Royal Society of Medicine Press, 85 (4): 217-221. The article includes an illustration of the 1808 variant of the present broadside.
Includes a woodcut illustration of conjoined twins Elisa and Mary Chulkhurst at head of text; ornamental border.
"(Price two pence.)"
The conjoined twins commonly known as the Biddenden Maids were supposedly joined at the shoulder and the hip, both dying aged 34. The story may be folk myth: no record of the twins exists prior to 1770. The first paragraph of the present broadside describes the life and death of the twins. The second paragraph describes the charity supplied in their names on Easter Sunday. At the time the broadside was published the charity proceeds amounted to about 1000 cakes (or rolls) and 300 packages of loaves and cheese. The loaves, known as "Biddenden cakes" featured a molded image of the twins. The tradition and ceremony were well-known, and many people journeyed to the village hoping to be recipients.
The present broadside may be one of the first documents to give the full names of the twins. It may have been sold outside the Biddenden church on Easter Sunday.
Subject Terms:
Biddenden (England) -- History.
Charities -- Great Britain.
Conjoined twins -- Great Britain.
Curiosities and wonders -- Great Britain.
Weston, Richard -- Printer.
Woodcuts -- 1805.

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